A FAITH that Speaks! - Happy Father's Day!
As we celebrate the amazing gift of Fathers during the month of June, I find that my heart is already focused there. This month marks the anniversary of the passing of one of the most influential people in my life, my grandfather! As I think about him, I am reminded of what it means for a Father to leave a lasting legacy, not of material wealth or earthly possessions, but of a FAITH that Speaks long after he is gone! This is the Powerful blessing God has granted to Fathers everywhere who choose to lead their families to follow Christ!
My Grandfather was one who made that choice. When I think of him I think about one of my favorite statements from the “Hall of Faith” found in Hebrews chapter eleven. At the end of verse four the author says, “Even though Abel is now dead, his FAITH STILL SPEAKS…” This small message speaks volumes to me. Abel is the first person mentioned in the Hall of Faith and the last statement about him is that he left behind a Faith that speaks! This is what a true legacy is all about! I was recently asked where I got my passion for studying and sharing the Word of God. I told them that it all began with my grandpa. I vividly remember him sitting in the chair in his study, pouring over scripture! He always had his bible with him. He was a passionate southern evangelist and he loved nothing more than taking part in church or tent revivals. I grew up spending time at his feet, discussing the Word, and learning from him. In fact, as I got older, those discussions were incredibly vibrant and at times even intense as his passion for the Word began filling me as well. We looked forward to our times of debate and in-depth conversation about the Bible. It was some of the very best moments of my life! I loved going with him to church and listening to him preach! God used my Grandfather in a profound way in the shaping of my life! This is part of his legacy! I know most people desire to leave their mark on this world. In fact, a basic way to define legacy is “something left behind by someone who has gone before!” To have a legacy you are leaving something behind for those who will come after you. For some, that “something” consists of money, or possessions, but for others it is a life of Faith! I love what Ephesians 2:20 tells us. Paul declares, “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, BUILT on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you TOO are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” We are being built into the dwelling of Christ, and we are built on the foundation of those who have gone before us. The apostles and the prophets have left their mark on the house of God by leaving behind a Faith that speaks. Through their life of faith they have added their hand print to the very house Christ is building. In fact, they became the foundation. Now, it is our turn! Everyone who has lived by faith in Christ has become the next stones being added to His house. 1 Peter 2:4-5 continues Paul’s thought. He tells us, “As you come to Him, the living stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, as Living Stones, are being built into a spiritual house…” As you choose to put your faith in Jesus Christ, knowing that he died for your sins and made a way for you to come into relationship with God, you yourself become a living stone that those who come after you are able to build on!
One way this became incredibly real for my family and I was through the house God miraculously enabled us to buy. After a while, we decided to change out the flooring in our home. Now, this house still had the original carpet from the one other family who had owned this house. Wanting to put in wood flooring my husband removed all the carpet and carpet padding, exposing the concrete in the basement and the sub floor in our upstairs. I’ll never forget the day I walked into the house and my husband yelled that there was something he had to show me. I joined him downstairs and my eyes grew wide as I looked at the concrete floor. Covering the ground in every room of our basement were different passages from the Word of God. Hand-written on our foundation were the previous family’s favorite Bible verses. Their own two children had occupied the same rooms downstairs as our two kids. When I walked toward their bedrooms I noticed that in the doorway of each room were the hand prints of their children along with the child’s birthday and their favorite Bible verse. As we moved upstairs it was the same thing on our subfloor. In the doorway to our bedroom were the previous owner’s names, their wedding date, and each of their favorite verses. Tears began falling down my face as I realized that our house was literally built on the Word of God! Our foundation was covered by the faith of those who had built this home and spent their life in it! Right away, my husband and I got down on our knees and after thanking God, we added our names next to the names of those who had been here before us. We added our anniversary date, and we began to add our favorite portions of scripture on the subfloor next to theirs. When our kids got home, we took them downstairs and added their handprints, birth dates, and allowed them to write their own favorite Bible verses on the foundation next to the ones written before them. It was an incredibly powerful moment for our family as we grasped the spiritual significance of leaving our handprints, our mark, and our legacy of faith next to those who had gone before us. It was now our turn! It did not matter so much to us the shape they had left the yard in or the updates they had done to the house, what became the most valuable to us was that they had left behind a Faith that speaks!
On the day my grandfather died I was given the privilege of being there with him. When I arrived at his house I asked him if anyone had read the Bible to him. He shook his head no and I told him that I would. By the time I was able to go to his study and get his Bible that day, he had stopped being able to communicate to us. I grabbed a hold of the worn, leather covered, Bible that I had seen him use all my life and I found where he had last been reading. It was a passage from Revelation describing the New Heaven and Earth and the New bodies we would receive when Jesus returns to take us home to be with Him forever. With tears flooding my eyes I sat down next to him and read that passage. When I finally looked up at him I saw that tears were slowly falling from his eyes and on his face was a beautiful smile. That was the last moment I had with my grandpa. He passed shortly after that, but I know the great joy he had in finally meeting His Savior face to face! I stayed with my grandma for a while after he passed and before I returned home, she came to me holding my grandpa’s old worn Bible. She placed it in my hands and told me that he had wanted me to have this! Even now I am thinking about how many times I open that Bible and read through all the notes he wrote in it. Those notes recount the many conversations he had with the Lord and so much of what God had taught him. My grandfather is a man who has left a Lasting Legacy! He has left behind him a Faith that Still Speaks!! This is his hand print on the house of God. He has become the next living stone that we are built on. For all of us, especially the amazing fathers we celebrate this month, the question remains, “What is the legacy you are building? Are you leaving your hand print on the house of God? Is there left behind YOU a FAITH that Speaks?”